When most parents think about time-out, it’s often sending the child to their room or having the child sit out of play for a few minutes. When I discuss time-outs in the last hour of our positive discipline series, I often get a question about the use of a mommy time-out. The parent says something along the lines of, “this isn’t really a time-out for my child, but there are times when I just need a break. Is it okay to be alone myself for a few minutes, or to go into my bedroom and close the door for a few minutes?”
As long as your child is in a safe place, I think it’s completely fine to take a few minutes of a break for yourself. If this is a very young child, just putting them in the crib with a few safe toys and walking to another room is better than continuing to hold the child when you are feeling on the edge. If you are about to lose your cool with an older child, I think it’s fine to separate yourself, close a door and just breath for a few minutes before you interact again.
It can be helpful to note, as children get older, discipline doesn’t have to be immediate. Of course, it should be as soon as possible, and under four years old it should be immediate, but as the child is four or five years old, the discipline can be a bit later. You can have time to collect your thoughts before moving forward.
In the big picture, I think it’s healthy to occasionally plan for time away from your family. In my own house, maybe once a month my husband or I would plan a night out with friends solo. Ideally parents find alone time at least once a week. This can be small like a shower with the door locked or a jog around the neighborhood. I know it’s sad that the shower counts, but it does.
If both parents are home and one is loosing their cool, it is also fine to tap-out. It’s fine to hand off your children to your partner. In our house it’s always been unspoken, a parent that is handing off supervision, is absolutely allowed to do so. For the receiving parent, it’s time to step-up!